A small hotel complex has been building up between the Georgia International Convention Centre and Atlanta airport over the last few years. Marriott opened this 204-room, four-star property in May 2017, working with local architecture firm Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, interior designers at Rottet Studio and local artists.
What’s it like?
The design throughout is quirky, but not in an overbearing way. Everything seems bespoke, from the mish-mash of furniture by the reception desk and original art pieces (a splodged-paint effect creating a map of the world, a silhouette of a girl being carried away by a flock of birds…) to the huge cube suspended above the bar holding drinks. The rooms and public spaces feel modern, spacious and comfortable.
The large reception extends into an open-plan lounge, bar and medium-sized restaurant, making it an easy place for groups to congregate or to wait for a taxi.
There are nice touches that make this area especially welcoming: on a Thursday night in November there was a musical duo playing unobtrusively as we had an evening drink, the fruit-infused water by the entrance became free mulled cider later in the day, and the staff are as friendly as you’d imagine in the American south.
Where is it?
They aren’t kidding when they call it an airport hotel – at least that’s what I thought when the Airbus wheels hit the tarmac and the first thing I saw was the illuminated word ‘RENAISSANCE’. As it turns out, that was the older Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel, also a Marriott property and perfect for plane fanatics as you can get a room with a view (and balcony) right alongside the runway.
If that’s a bit much, the Renaissance Atlanta Airport Gateway is a little further away, about a 10-minute drive from Hartsfield-Jackson. It’s close enough that some rooms do still have a runway view, but the drive takes a bit longer than you might assume thanks to the maze of roads separating it from the world’s busiest airport. The hotel also offers complimentary use of the 24-hour ATL SkyTrain, which takes a couple of minutes but may take a while to get yourself onto given the size of the airport.
The new Renaissance is located in an area called the Convention Centre Concourse, walking distance from the Georgia International Convention Centre, Champions sports bar, and two other Marriott hotels – the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway and the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Atlanta Airport Gateway (you’d be forgiven for losing track of all those names). It’s also near Delta Air Line’s headquarters, while Downtown Atlanta is a 20- to 30-minute drive away, traffic dependent.
I stayed in a King Guest Room, the smallest available, though there was still bags of room and a TV the size of a small-town cinema. A large desk, six hangers, USB charging points in the wall, an ironing board/iron and a coffee maker were all welcome additions, though I appeared to have teabags but no kettle or mugs. The bathroom was similarly spacious, with a hairdryer and toiletries by Aveda.
Though not uncommon, I found it difficult not to be annoyed by the single $5 bottle of water, empty minibar and the Wifi starting at $12 a day (unless I joined Marriott Rewards, which the website then informed me was ‘not possible at this time’).
Like in the reception and bar, a lot of thought has clearly gone into adding little design quirks, but I liked these, and there is nothing offensive on the eye – unless you find the saying, ‘Travel: the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer’ offensively twee. In which case you can turn the pillow around.
Food and drink
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available at the relaxed Hickory & Hazel restaurant in the main downstairs area. The staff will happily recommend you into a haze of delicious, rich Southern dishes – I had a lunch of barbequed chicken wings and fried green tomatoes to share, followed by shrimps and grits with bacon, and had to forego dinner entirely. Grits, if you didn’t know, is a Southern dish made up of boiled, ground corn. The same space also functions as a bar, where I tried a nice, buttery Pinot Gris from Oregon. I didn’t get to eat there in the morning (the restaurant is the hotel’s only breakfast option and serves meals to order) but dishes include French toast, pancakes, bacon and eggs and a frittata, as well as lighter options.
A decent-sized gym on the second floor is open 24/7. There’s no pool, so if this is a priority you might want to opt for the Marriott property over the road which does.
The hotel has 6,000 square feet of event space, including a ballroom and smaller meeting rooms, and the dining/bar space is large, calm and well-lit enough to be a good place for a working lunch or dinner.
Welcoming, more pleasant and definitely more stylish than you might expect from an airport hotel – I felt like I’d had a taste of Atlanta even though my two-night stay barely saw me leave the area between here and the airport.
Some hearty regional cuisine at Hickory & Hazel accompanied by American wine and live music from a local band (night depending).
Access to Georgia International Convention Centre and Delta’s headquarters.
A double room in January starts from $232 a night on the Marriott website, though there was a lot of fluctuation by date.